The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) spent the entire day underwater not because of big economic news, but because The Wall Street Journal reported last night that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) is cutting back on its iPhone parts orders. There could be a number of reasons for this (such as lack of demand or supply chain problems), but as the largest component of the S&P 500 by weight, its drop is having serious reverberations throughout the tech space and the overall market.
On the day, the S&P 500 ended lower by 1.37 points (-0.09%), to finish at 1,470.68.
In spite of the negativity surrounding Apple, there were quite a few stocks making waves, including PC and networking behemoths Dell (NASDAQ: DELL ) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) .
Dell surged as much as 18% after Bloomberg reported that the company could be in talks with two private equity firms to go private. Hewlett-Packard tracked Dell's move higher by gaining nearly 5% following an upgrade from analysts at JPMorgan, who don't see things getting any worse for the company.
The possibility of a buyout might have you scratching your head, but as a shareholder in Dell myself, I saw this possibility coming from miles away. Dell's PC business, while shrinking, is still a cash cow, and it's in the process of transitioning from a PC maker to an enterprise-focused networking and cloud solutions provider. Dell is boasting more than $5 billion in net cash and is more than capable of producing $3 billion in free cash flow annually. Needless to say, I still see value in Dell even after today's huge rally.
HP, on the other hand, has little business moving higher in spite of the upgrade, with more than $17 billion in net debt, a recent $8.8 billion writedown on its Autonomy purchase, and the upcoming layoffs of 27,000 employees in order to trim costs.
Turning to a completely different sector, VF Corp. (NYSE: VFC ) , owner of brands such as North Face, Wrangler, and Nautica, vaulted 3% higher after announcing that it and Altamont Capital Partners are offering $555.5 million to purchase Billabong. This offer matches a consortium bid in December, but is less than the $734.6 million offered by private equity firm TPG International in July. VF has masterfully orchestrated growing its company through buyouts over the years and Billabong would go a long way toward expanding its reach to younger crowds. Consider VF's rise today the thumbs-up from investors that they too favor its pursuit of Billabong.
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